03 June 2021

iOS vs Android Development: Which Will Cost You More?


The world is in a constant battle between the preverbal forces of good vs evil, north vs south, east vs west, liquid vs solid. But nothing since the dawn of time has been as Android and iOS.

These two operating systems face off towards two different markets. My colleagues and I have discussed these extensively, indicating where they work best and which project.

Today, we’re going to find out which operating system will cost you more. How much time will certain OS’es take to develop, and how much more will you need to spend when working on them.

What Costs What? App Development Costs

Let’s quickly define our scope of how much it costs to make an app. For argument’s sake, we’ll assume that we’re building an app from scratch.

With the help of my colleagues, I will bring you a verdict on Android and iOS. So, for a moment, you can close your wallet – but open your eyes. We have some enlightening to do.

iOS Development

Apple’s flagship mobile operating system does have some inherent advantages. Namely, due to its popularity in the US and Western Europe, you can leverage the best returns on investment in these regions. This can be credited mainly to the spending habits of this demographic, which habitually spends more on apps, and in-app purchases.

Value: Premium

Take a bite out of that juicy Apple and cater to a spend-worthy Western audience. But while you’ll be rewarded – you’ll also be expected to spend your way into this inner circle. iOS apps can be written in Swift, or Objective-C, which come at a premium. In some cases, development costs alone can reach up to 15% more than their Java counterparties.

Skills: Top Minds for Top Equipment

Skills are a must here, with tight development environment requirements and considerable limitations to what you can and cannot do within the iOS environment. Developers will, for instance, need specialised software, such as XCode. Not only does this come at a premium – but it also runs exclusively on Mac. Apple software is such that if you’re looking to develop for iPhones – you’ll need at least one other piece of Apple technology. Cha-Ching!

Conditions: Strict – But Possibly Manageable

You can face potential re-development costs when carrying out your app release due to missed production criteria. That can be partly because of the Apple App Store’s nature and its tendency to reject apps deemed irrelevant or unusable.

The benefits of this are a limit to the number of updates in the software itself. With iOS and iPad OS software’s irregular updates, it’s possible to gain some traction with your creations and build an app that remains relevant for quite some time. Apple tends to drop support for older software, meaning your new app needs only to adjust to the needs of current users – nothing historic!

Customisation: Limited

iOS can present some limitations in terms of how many features you can add and the ability to customise your application’s interface. In this case, it may be challenging to apply additional features if they require interaction with third-party software. Ultimately, these limitations can prove beneficial, as phone sizes do not differ between models, which can shorten development time considerably.

Android Development

The world’s most popular mobile operating system spans every market, in any language. Among its most popular markets are Asia, Africa, and Australia. Explore a wealth of expertise across the planet, with convenience and flexibility in the world’s genuinely affordable operating system.

Value: Universally Affordable

New applications are developed using Kotlin, with Java still famous for carrying out long-running projects. However, even these are migrating to Kotlin, as transitions are inexpensive to undertake. Developers are thankfully only required to pay an economical one-time registration fee of $25.

Skills: Street Smarts Welcome

Expertise is needed, but without diving into complex niches. The versatility of working with Android is thanks to the broad scope of free-to-use information available, keeping costs to a minimum. Google offers extensive knowledge bases for novices, including practical exercises, interactive materials, and entire training modules for every level of Android developer.

Conditions: Highly Flexible – Almost Too Flexible?

Java and Kotlin are highly versatile programming languages, supported by Windows, Mac OS, Linux, and more. This allows developers to execute Android apps, regardless of their machine’s operating system. However, as there is a wide range of Android devices in circulation, you could encounter compatibility issues for specific functions. For example, apps planned with fingerprint scanners may not be featured in the devices of end-users. Such issues are common and can contribute to costs.

That flexibility presents some issues concerning legacy systems. With Android offering support for software versions dating as far back as 2012, your app may need to adjust to working with a long list of unstable or problematic software versions. In this sense, costs can go up as the need for continuous development will rise.

Customisation: Possible, with Care

Android offers a world of personalisation to programmes, thanks to its ubiquity in the market. Its changes, however, are thanks to the multitude of devices using Android. The drawbacks to this are a diverse set of specifications across many handset brands. With different screen sizes from different manufacturers, developers must support a long list of consumer segments.

iOS vs Android Development – Final Cost Verdict

While Apple’s iOS offers a sleek environment, complete with rules of engagement, it offers far less customisation. In short, the skillsets required raise expenditures. However, the later development phases can face decisively lower expenses in the medium term, as the environment is less prone to complications.

Android presents a low barrier to entry, unlimited options for personalisation, and a wealth of development information. These attributes are what keep costs under control, particularly in the immediate term. Where expenses diverge from iOS, they emerge in the later development phases, involving testing and re-development to attain its substantial user population.

Ultimately, however, both operating systems work out to be effectively the same. Each aspect accounts for time and the labour costs involved with building an application. When looking to optimise costs as much as possible, consider budgeting your time and outlining your app’s objectives early. You may not be able to change your desired operating system. Still, your approach to each can be more proactive – and profitable too!

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Daniel Łojewski
Android / Flutter Technical Lead